What makes a Technology Firm Work?

We can’t escape the obvious fact that technology plays an increasingly dominant role in our everyday lives. Many of the world’s biggest economies are fueled by high tech innovation. Venture capital and public funds are quick to chase the next big breakthrough in science or engineering. With this culture, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that programmers, scientists and other techies are the only ones that can propel innovation forward. If your end goal is to find employment, some say, the only fields that are worth the cost of a college education are the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). The logic of this argument is apparently hard to dispute; students from the United States, China and India opt to study math, business or engineering over history or philosophy. But if there is one thing that can be learned as an engineer and businessman, it is that there are many skills that are needed to effectively run a corporation—not just the ones gained through a purely technical education.

The Myth that STEM is Best

Several universities in the U.S. made headlines a few years ago by threatening to cut academic departments in the humanities. (Humanities courses delve into subjects that explore the human condition and its institutions. Think political science, language and philosophy.) Where STEM subjects focus on hard analysis and fact, the study of history can explore the grayer areas that are subject to interpretation. Why are schools cutting these programs? The reasons are varied, but most did so in order to reroute funding to programs with more “practical” outcomes, producing graduates equipped with immediately marketable skills. People opposed to these initiatives argued that these programs help students to think deeply, empathize with their peers and tackle problems creatively. Many of these colleges and educational institutions back tracked and revised their proposals, but the movement is still active, and these programs are still under fire.

What do Microsoft and Google Look for in a New Hire?

Microsoft Corporation is arguably one of the most successful technology companies in the world with annual revenues exceeding $120 billion dollars. Surprisingly, however, this tech empire’s hiring practices do not focus on technical skills to the exclusion of everything else. Rather, like powerhouses Google and Apple, Microsoft looks for strong technical talent, but qualities that indicate a high level of emotional intelligence are equally important in a new hire. These are the qualities that provide the “grease” for the company’s “mechanical”, day-to-day processes and these are the qualities that help a company manage people and thrive in tough times. Would the person work well with co-workers and tackle problems in a collaborative style? Is this person able to manage a lob from left field or sort through a major crisis? Today’s business culture depends on people who can do all these things and more.

A Meeting of Minds (and Skills) at Highlands InfoTech

Technology is not developed in a vacuum. Maybe it once was, but it isn’t anymore. People need to talk to one another, listen, compromise and collaborate. Never before has the development of technology been so interactive. Agile software development is based on and frankly thrives on teamwork. Every department at Highlands, from software development, to human resources, to tech support, is grounded in teamwork. Not only do we need people who are creative, analytical and good at communicating, but we need team players who are empathetic and balanced. We need people who approach problems resourcefully and people who can turn difficult circumstances into positive outcomes.

What does this mean in terms of recruitment at Highlands? We are looking for creative, hard-working and gritty individuals in STEM fields, yes, but others as well. Those with backgrounds in the humanities can help our team as well, especially if they approach work and learning with a “can do” spirit. If you think you have what it takes, step up and apply!